Kathryn Mitchell (Vic) bettered her recently-set Australian javelin record on Saturday afternoon, a new mark of 68.57m set at the Victorian Open & Para Athletics Track & Field Championships.
Just 20 days had passed since Mitchell extended Kim Mickle’s previous national record mark of 66.83m set in 2014. In spite her good form, with Mitchell securing the Australian Championship just a week after the record, the result was unexpected.
“As I was warming up the wind was picking up, and I thought it was going to get in the way of any kind of performance,” Mitchell admits.
A first attempt just short of 66 metres meant that Mitchell had to revise any pre-conceived ideas about what would be possible. The winds would not be an excuse. In the days leading up to the competition, Mitchell had been keeping a close eye on the weather forecast and given the well-known direct cross-winds faced by competitors at Lakeside, had been expecting nothing but a training opportunity from the event.
Her second throw was a foul, the third sailing to 66.13m. Mitchell ‘can’t explain’ what happened next but the cheers coming from the crowd in the stands indicated that she’d set a new national mark.
“I didn’t expect it to be a metre over, but I thought it might be half a metre, 30 centimetres or something,” an understated Mitchell says. The throw won Mitchell the state title.
Mitchell often talks about how her perspective has changed over a career that has now spanned two Olympic Games and soon, a fourth Commonwealth Games. The events over the past few weeks are in isolation, a microcosm of that change.
“Previously if I’ve been throwing well, I’m like ‘oh, okay today I’ll have a crack at the Australian record’ and it just makes you try too hard,” Mitchell explains. “I believe I can do it, but when and where is the question mark.
“I’m trying to let it happen rather than chasing it.”
Mitchell is no longer sweating the small stuff. The hard work has been done; she’s fit and healthy.
“I’m just trying to focus on a few more simple things, and the results are way beyond what we thought would be for this time,” she says. “I think that’s the exciting thing; I’m only just in the early days of working this way. It’s exciting what might happen over the next couple of years.”
That’s right. Years. Mitchell, at 35, admits that recovery may take a little more time these days but the years of training and preparation behind her means that her body and throwing arm for that matter, is finding the mark that little bit quicker.
With 68.57m in the bag, Mitchell is now a part of a unique club, ranked seventh-best all time. Two more competitions remain for her now before her appearance at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next month, the Sydney Athletics Grand Prix (March 17) and the Queensland Track Classic in Brisbane (March 28).
Could the Commonwealth Record of 69.35m, held by South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen be next?
“It’s realistic for sure,” Mitchell says. She just won’t be targeting it specifically.